Livestock Without Pain

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There’s an editorial on New Scientist reacting to a recently-published paper by a philosopher named Adam Shriver, in which he calls for the genetic modification of livestock animals so that they feel no pain. “I’m offering a solution where you could still eat meat but avoid animal suffering,” Shriver says.

Does this seem a little nutty to you too? (Incidentally, I’m not a vegetarian.)

Philosopher Peter Singer, as usual, swoops in with a reasonable point: Sure, pain-free animals would remove that particular objection, but “this on its own would not make intensive livestock farming OK: cruelty, he points out, is hardly the industry’s only flaw.” The industry is an environmental disaster too. Besides which, and I admit I might be missing something here, but the animals still get killed at some point, right?

This gets me imagining a world where people buy “pain-free” meat, thinking they’re doing the right thing and feeling less guilty about eating meat, all the while continuing to support an industry that is ruinous in every other way. It’s like the notion that it’s okay to use a ton of plastic, so long as you recycle it. [via @alexismadrigal]


Jeremy Hatch is a writer, musician, and professional bookseller leading a cheerful, aimless life in San Francisco. He is the Junior Literary Editor of the Rumpus and has a blog which he updates once in a while. More from this author →